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'Tis the season: Growers market reopens

The popular Ashland Growers Market opened Tuesday and was immediately thronged by shoppers who love local, mostly organic food, fresh from farms in Jackson, Josephine and Siskiyou Counties. 

The produce overflowed and was quickly snapped up, much of it early-season root crops and hearty greens. Vendors also offer an array of meats and breads, as well as craft items.

Purveyors of prepared foods — spanakopita, donuts, baked goods, coffee — were dutifully charging the city’s 5 percent tax, which they’d never been charged in the 27 years of the Rogue Valley Growers & Crafters Market, as it is formally known.

The market is held 8:30 to 1:30 on Tuesdays in the parking lot of the National Guard Armory on Wightman Street at East Main Street.

After receiving a complaint last year that the tax wasn’t being assessed and should be, the city last year sent “secret shoppers” to buy some prepared food. The council agreed the tax should be collected, as that's what the ordinance says, but heeded vendors’ pleas that it not start till this year.

“I’m collecting it on part of my pastries — not the loaves of bread, or if they buy six or more pastries,” said Tom Clarke of Coquette Bakery in Central Point. “There was some grumbling about it, but we’re happy to be here. If you go to the Growers Market on Thursdays in Medford, all my pastries will be 25 cents cheaper because they don’t have a tax on prepared food.”

As guitar players sang songs and teens from Ashland High School relished fresh pastries, we asked clearly delighted shoppers: “What draws you to the Growers Market?”

Jasmine Chandler — It’s awesome. I’m so glad it’s open again. The produce is fresh, local and organic and it’s nice to shop outdoors. The bonus is running into lots of friends. It’s important to support the local economy and also to be sure it’s not sprayed with chemicals or GMOs. Fresh is better.

Nancy Garriott — I was just driving by and saw it was open. I brake for Growers Market. Had to stop. I’ve been going since they were under the bridge on Water Street. It’s such a cultural event, and we get to embrace the local economy and eat local food. It’s such a positive way of doing things. It’s fun to taste all the tasty samples. I just sampled Higher Power’s raw food, so good. Seeds and nuts are a new dimension. 

Page Logsdon — I love our Ashland Growers Market. It’s infused with life energy. We’re so fortunate to have all this fresh, life-infused food. It’s wonderful to see kids you've known since they were little, now playing music. You see so many friends with starts for gardens. It’s a weekly reminder what a healthy community we have.

Janai Mestrovich — The Growers Market means we’re having a better life. It has great energy and you connect with people who truly understand real nourishment. The food is fun and colorful, so vibrant and I want it inside me. I feel like I’m eating a rainbow. 

John Darling is an Ashland freelance writer. Reach him at jdarling@jeffnet.org.